3rd Grade Science Vocabulary Words

Instructor: Lauren Scott

Lauren has a Master's degree in special education and has taught for more than 10 years.

This lesson provides definitions, along with examples or descriptions, for some of the key concepts covered in 3rd grade science. The subjects include introductory physics, biology, and meteorology.

Science Vocabulary

If you're a 3rd grader, you're probably doing some great investigations in science class! And, a lot of new vocabulary goes along with those investigations.

You won't find every science term in the world in this lesson, but it includes enough of the big ones to help you with your homework. Happy reading, and happy investigating!

Physics - Let's Get Moving!

tug of war

Balanced force - objects pushing or pulling each other with equal force

  • If two tug-of-war teams pull with the same force, the rope will not move because there is balanced force.

Force - a push or a pull

  • You exert a force when you open a door or push a shopping cart.

Friction - a force created by two objects rubbing together, making it hard for the objects to move

  • The toy car wouldn't move on the carpet because there was too much friction.

Gravity - the force that pulls two objects together

  • Gravity keeps us from floating up in the air.

Magnet - a piece of metal that attracts certain other metals, like iron

  • The magnet on a can opener will stick to a soup can.

Motion - a change in position

  • You exhibit motion when you walk from one room to another.

Unbalanced force - objects pushing or pulling each other with unequal force

  • If two tug-of-war teams use different force, the team pulling with more force wins because there is unbalanced force.

Work - a measure of the force needed to move an object a certain distance

  • It took less work to move the toy car across the table than it did to move the book across the table.

Biology - The Wonders of Life

coral reef

Ecosystem - a system of living and non-living things interacting in nature

  • A coral reef ecosystem includes fish, coral, and water.

Extinct - gone forever because all members of the species died

  • Dinosaurs are extinct.

Fossil - part of a dead animal or plant that has been replaced with rock

  • We found the fossil of an ancient leaf on our hike.

Inheritance - the passing of traits from parent to offspring

  • He inherited his brown eyes from his mother.

Offspring - new animals or plants produced by reproduction

  • Those cute kittens are the offspring of adult cats.

Population - a group of the same kind of animal or plant living in the same place

  • The country's bald eagle population is growing.

Resources - things in nature that living things use to survive

  • Food, water, and shelter are all important resources for animals.

Trait - a physical feature or behavior

  • Webbed feet are a trait of mallard ducks.

Meteorology - Up In the Air


Atmosphere - all the air that surrounds a planet

  • The air we breathe is part of Earth's atmosphere.

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